It is estimated that 80% of Canadians consume alcohol, and of those who drink, nearly six million are considered heavy drinkers. Canada’s alcohol consumption guidelines, developed by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, were recently updated and state that no amount of alcohol is considered safe and recommends that people consume no more than two standard drinks in a week. This puts people at risk of developing chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and liver disease.
What is a standard drink?
A standard drink can be:
• 12oz beer
• 12oz cooler, cider, or ready-to-drink cocktail
• 5oz wine
• 1.5 oz of spirits
What constitutes heavy drinking?
For females, this translates into drinking four or more alcoholic beverages during one event, at least once a month, while for males, that number is five or more drinks. Heavy drinking can lead to the development of alcohol use disorder, a behavioural condition that gives rise to cognitive, emotional, and physical issues that increase disability and decrease lifespan.
Tips to reduce your alcohol consumption
It is important to note that any amount of alcohol can have risks to your health, and ‘low-risk’ guidelines should not be considered ‘no-risk’ guidelines. To reduce the amount of alcohol you consume, consider the following tips:
• Don’t drink on an empty stomach, have a meal or a snack with your drink
• Drink slowly
• Have a glass of water or a non-alcoholic, caffeine-free beverage between drinks
• Avoid risky situations and activities - don't drink and drive, and don't get in a car with a driver who has been drinking
• Check warning labels on all medications, and talk with your health care provider or pharmacist about possible interactions with alcohol
It is also important to avoid alcohol consumption entirely before and after surgery as it can reduce heart and immune system function, prolong bleeding time, and increase the body’s stress response.
To learn more about alcohol consumption and how reducing it can benefit your health, watch, and read our resources below.